Premiere of BHAKTI BLUE: The Rumi Songs

On Friday, May 29, I’ll be premiering a collection of new songs based on the poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi. This will also be the premier of a new international group, assembled specifically for this project, featuring performance poet Sandra Isabel Vallejo Rivas (Columbia,) who will deliver Spanish translations of all the lyrics, along with my frequent collaborator, percussionist Carter V (Detroit, MI). Proceeds from the show will benefit the Green Iguana Foundation and will be presented in the beautiful performance space of Tree House Lodge in Punta Uva, Limon, here on the Carribean coast of Costa Rica. The poetry of 13th century Sufi poet Rumi has both inspired and shocked millions, with its profoundly intimate descriptions of the experience of human love as a divine ecstatic experience. Rumi's words celebrate love between two people as a spiritual phenomenon, presenting a kind of guide to Bhakti, the yoga of love and devotion. Yet, while the undisputed goal of his philosophy is meeting the Divine in one's lover, he fully embraces the physical and sensual elements of human love in a way that is often at once both sacred and erotic. I first discovered Rumi's work while studying with Sufi teacher Pir Vilayat Khan at the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, NY, back in the mid-1970's. I later rediscovered his genius while I was attending graduate school in Boston during the early 1990's in the public lectures and readings of poet Robert Bly and the renown English translator Coleman Barks. But it was only after another 15 years of writing and performing my own songs in Seattle that I came to realize just how much Rumi's poetry had influenced both my life and my own work. I picked up a collection of Rumi poetry at a used bookstore in Costa Rica a few months after moving here in 2006, and I soon began to re-encounter images and phrases that had somehow (and mostly unconsciously) found their way into my own song lyrics over the years.  It was then that I felt compelled to try working a Rumi poem or two into new contemporary songs of my own. Less than a year later I found myself completing a full album's worth of songs derived directly from Rumi poems - a collection that, because of its musical roots and devotional themes, I now call Bhakti Blue. If you're here in Costa Rica next week, I hope you can join us for this very special event.

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